‘Your Sister’s Sister’ feels real 

Directed by Lynn Shelton, “Your Sister’s Sister” is a rare beast — a low-budget movie about actual characters.

The film, which opens today, is an example of an affordable model that has worked for Shelton over the course of several films.

“This is my third movie in a row with three characters in one location and taking place over a long weekend,” she says, adding that the film was shot in just 12 days with a small crew.

Without compromising her working methods, Shelton has graduated to a more recognizable cast than those of her earlier movies.

Rising star Emily Blunt plays Iris, who offers to let her best friend Jack (Mark Duplass) stay in her family cabin. He arrives to find Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt, from “Rachel Getting Married”) already staying there.

After a night of drinking, Jack and Hannah sleep together, creating a sticky situation when Iris unexpectedly arrives the next day.

Shelton worked with Duplass — another rising star, appearing in four films so far in 2012 and directing two others — in her 2009 film “Humpday.”

Both Duplass and Shelton have been associated with the independent filmmaking movement known as “mumblecore.”

“I don’t think I would mind if not for that horrible word,” Shelton laughs. “The good thing is that we were getting written about. It’s a way to lump all these things together. We weren’t waiting around to make our movies, and we had a high bar for truthfulness.”

Truthfulness abounds in “Your Sister’s Sister,” with the three characters interacting realistically. They converse with each other rather than simply reciting dialogue.

The director even gave the actors “creative consultant” credits.

“We worked together for months,” Shelton says. “I wanted it to feel like a second skin for them, to find the overlap between themselves and their characters.”

The screenplay is far from standard. Shelton started shooting with a 70-page “scriptment” (a cross between a script and a treatment), which she wrote between conversations with the actors.

She also asked them not to memorize their lines, but if they liked a particular line, they could feel free to use it.

Despite the film’s close, personal touch, Shelton says the characters are not based on her own life. “Those relationships are uncomplicated and boring,” she says. “They’re much less interesting than the ones you see on the screen.”


Your Sister’s Sister

Starring Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt

Written and directed by Lynn Shelton

Rated R

Running time 1 hour 30 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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